Awards To Book Before The Upcoming Aeroplan Devaluation

In late September I wrote about the Aeroplan program announcing an award chart devaluation. Aeroplan is Air Canada’s (spun off) loyalty program, and has some lucrative award costs, even for those who wouldn’t otherwise fly Air Canada.

Air-Canada-787
Air Canada 787

At the time, Aeroplan announced that their award costs would be adjusted for bookings made as of December 15, 2015, which is two weeks from today. If you’d still like to redeem Aeroplan miles at the old award levels, this is a good time to start finalizing those awards.

Fortunately this award chart devaluation isn’t nearly as bad as the award chart devaluation Aeroplan had in 2011, whereby some award costs went up by nearly 100%. To further add insult to injury, months later they added fuel surcharges to awards on many of their partners.

While the changes aren’t as drastic this time around, some of the most lucratively priced awards, which really set Aeroplan apart, are going up in price. As a reminder, here are the award chart changes for travel originating in North America:

  • The cost of shorthaul awards within North America is increasing:
    • Business class is increasing from 25,000 miles to 30,000 miles roundtrip
  • The cost of awards between North America and Europe 1 is increasing:
    • Business class is increasing from 90,000 miles to 110,000 miles roundtrip
    • First class is increasing from 125,000 miles to 140,000 miles roundtrip
  • The cost of awards between North America and Europe 2 is increasing:
    • Business class is increasing from 105,000 miles to 115,000 miles roundtrip
    • First class is increasing from 145,000 miles to 160,000 miles roundtrip
  • The cost of awards between North America and Southern South America is increasing:
    • Business class is increasing from 95,000 miles to 110,000 miles roundtrip
    • First class is increasing from 135,000 miles to 140,000 miles roundtrip
  • The cost of awards between North America and Australia is increasing:
    • Economy class is increasing from 80,000 miles to 90,000 miles roundtrip

Aeroplan-New-Award-Chart

The most significant increase, in my opinion, is for travel between North America and Europe 1. Under the current pricing, Aeroplan charges just 45,000 miles for one-way business class travel between the US and Europe, while under the new pricing the cost will be going up by 10,000 miles in each direction, to 55,000 miles each way. That was the single most lucrative Aeroplan award, in my opinion, so it’s sad (though not surprising) that it went up in cost.

As a reminder, among transatlantic airlines, Aeroplan doesn’t impose fuel surcharges on Brussels, Swiss, Turkish, and United.

Swiss-Business-Class-A330-03
Redeem Aeroplan miles for Swiss business class without paying fuel surcharges

Similarly, first class between the US and Europe is going from 62,500 miles to 70,000 miles one-way. Lately Aeroplan has been my preferred way to book Lufthansa first class, so that’s quite unfortunate. Fortunately you can once again redeem LifeMiles for Lufthansa first class, though at 87,000 miles one-way (without fuel surcharges) it’s not that exceptional of a value.

Lufthansa-First-Class-747 - 1
Aeroplan redemption rates for Lufthansa first class are going up

The other great thing about Aeroplan is that they allow two stopovers on a roundtrip award, meaning you can actually visit three destinations on a single award. There aren’t many programs which allow that.

Aeroplan is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (there’s even a transfer bonus from SPG at the moment), so if you are thinking of planning travel to Europe and have transferrable points, Aeroplan is a great option.

Aeroplan-Bonus-1

There’s one really positive change coming on December 15. Under Aeroplan’s current chart, one way awards are only allowed for travel originating or terminating in North America. Under the new chart, Aeroplan will allow one-way awards for half the cost of a roundtrip in all regions.

Ethiopian-Business-Class-787-03
Redeem 45,000 Aeroplan miles for Ethiopian business class between Los Angeles and Dublin

Bottom line

While the devaluation isn’t massive compared to what we’re seeing with other programs, there are a few truly special awards which are being eliminated.

If you have Amex Membership Rewards points and are thinking of going to Europe anytime soon, I’d seriously consider trying to book a ticket through Aeroplan in the next two weeks.

Do you plan on booking an Aeroplan award before the devaluation in two weeks?

Comments

  1. Why is it that every time I search Aeroplan for months on end to Europe, or even close to departure, the over water segment always shows up as economy? I’ve read about this issue before, but am I doing something wrong? As always, thanks for your feedback!

  2. You missed one of the most heinous changes (though a long time in coming) which was the Asia 1 to Asia 1 business class award going from 30K to 80K miles.

  3. @Mike: Here’s what you’re doing wrong. You’re expecting them to deliver.

    AC releases seats only begrudgingly, at the very last minute, only some of the time. My experience has been that if I mark 4 acceptable departure dates in my calendar, pack and put by bag at the door, then search many times daily, I’ll often get the seat I need in the final 72 hours, sometimes, the final 24 hours.

    In some ways it’s understandable. We’re vying for the seats that the airline couldn’t actually sell for money. Why should they set them aside for us? On the other hand, I’m sceptical that they would sell me a business class seat rather than give it to a SuperElite wanting to eUpgrade. If every flight has lots of those, we’re outta luck.

    Remember to search your availability on non-aeroplan websites. ANA, Lufthansa, United. If you don’t do that, you’re gonna miss something. aeroplan.com lies.

  4. @Lucky:

    It’s worth mentioning the sleazy way they sneaked a massive devaulation into the chart. They moved both Thailand and Vietnam from “Asia1” to “Asia2”, effectively increasing fares to those popular destinations by massive amounts in economy. Weird that economy is now 15,000 higher each way than before, while Business rises 2,500 each way. So EVA from North America to Southeast Asia is still a value in Business. No Carrier surcharges (~$CAD150 round trip total taxes), very convenient itineraries from YYZ.

  5. Agree with the others, the Asia changes are the most devastating to me. I’m definitely booking some more Asia 1 to Asia 1 biz class awards before the 15th.

  6. I also have had no luck finding J class from Canada with Aeroplan, unless you want business to Houston and then economy to Europe for the full business redemption rate.

  7. @steven @mike when and out of which cities are you searching?

    Ex: close in I see flights from YUL to MUC, FRA, CDG and ZRH in J for 2 people on different carriers.
    in feb and march i see flights from YUL to CDG, FRA MUC… in J also on different carriers.

  8. “Lots of Notice” isn’t the way to get Business class seats from Aeroplan. Many seats appear in the final 4 days before the flights. Pick 3 acceptable departure dates and pack. A seat will appear for travel on one of your three dates, a day or 2 in advance.

  9. The one you mentioned is not, really not.. The most lucrative one is intra Asia flights, 30k biz/rt 50k f/rt

  10. Since the devaluation notice, I’ve been trying to find a J award from YVR to AMS in May for 45k.
    While AC flights are available, their rip-off carrier surcharge is a whopping $443 (on top of taxes and fees).

    To avoid that huge surcharge, I’ve been looking for the TATL portion in J on Swiss, Turkish, United, Brussels, SAS or LOT, even while settling for Y (on AC or LH) on any intra-North-America or intra-Europe segments. Still no luck.

    @CSP: If you have any tips, I’d appreciate them.

  11. As others have mentioned, my favourite award, inter-Asia for 30,000 in Business, is more than doubling to 80,000. It is one of the sole reasons I collected all those credit cards over the years. To finish it off, I am in the Krisflyer Lounge at Singapore Changi T2 right now. Instead of buying a low cost SIN-KUL roundtrip for about ~$150, I am using my Aeroplan miles to fly J SIN-SGN-NRT to connect NRT-KUL-SIN and built myself a 22-hr connection at KUL. Sure I give up a day traveling, but it will be one of the last times I get to fly the likes of SQ & NH in J in a long time and wanted to spend a day checking out KL. Oh we frequent flyers are crazy.
    I will admit that I like how Asia 1 and Asia 2 will cost the same inter-Asia. I used to find it so frustrating the 100% difference when the countries are right next door. Take my SIN-KUL for example. In J it would be 60,000 roundtrip. To cut that in half, I am going all the way to NRT and back for 30,000. Makes no sense.

  12. @Jeffrey I’m afraid I don’t have any special tips. it sounds you are doing the right things. I think it comes down to a question of flexibility. Find your transatlantic and work backwards (obvious) would be my only tip. I live on the east coast, so it’s easier to find routings or positioning flights to major hubs. I am always checking wikipedia airport entries to see who flies where.

    @Scott I think it is still 215K for a mini-rtw to asia 2.

  13. @CSP

    From YOW or YYC normally (searching for me and for my parents). What probably hurts is that I am looking for two seats at the same time?

  14. @Steven. I honestly don’t know, but I have seen availability for two using a little elbow grease on the aeroplan website. I think it depends on your flexibility. For myself, when I search, I look segment by segment with the transatlantic segment first. Then I work backwards to my origin and if necessary forward to my destination. I am also not necessary date specific.

    If you are based out of YOW, I assume that YUL is also departure option?

  15. @jeffery There is SK availability from LAX to AMS on the, for example 24th and 31st of May. As is there TK.

    Build off that. Took me about 5 minutes to find on UA and confirm on Aeroplan.

    -Brian

  16. @Brian: Thanks a lot for your valuable advice, Brian!

    By the way, does anyone know if YVR-LAX plus LAX-IST/ARN-AMS can be booked online?
    I tried 1) one-way: YVR-AMS but above routing does not show up; 2) multi-city: the site does not accept this routing.
    Is there a particular way to book this online, or do I have to call?
    Thanks!

  17. @Jeffery you need to call. Check each flight out individually on Aeroplan.com (YVR-LAX then LAX-IST then…) and ask on the phone to feed flights. Usually they are good at taking this. If not just HUaCA.

  18. Hi Lucky,

    I tried to book two award seats using aeroplan tonight. The website shows that it has technical difficulties. What’s the reason of it?

    Best,
    Jack

  19. Does anyone (or Lucky) have any datapoints on whether you can change a pre-devaluation award and not get charged new rates? Essentially, changing carriers/routing, but keeping the same origin/destination?

  20. @CSP

    I’m trying to redeem my Aeroplan points for first class on Lufthansa. Preferably an A380 route with no specific dates. Doesn’t even need to be round trip, but if it’s just one way I’d want it from Europe to North America so I can experience Lufthansa’s First Class terminal. Any advice on how to search or which days to look for etc? I know the routes the A380 and 8i fly but every time I search Aeroplan it never displays Lufthansa as an option, or first class in general.

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